The Path, November, 1895
The earnest, devoted student can hardly believe that there exist any theosophists sincerely holding a belief in theosophical doctrines but who are, at the same time, found to have such a mechanical conception of them as permits one to retain undisturbed many old dogmas which are diametrically opposed to theosophy. Yet we have such among us.
It comes about in this manner. First, Theosophy and its doctrines are well received because affording an explanation of the sorrows of life and a partial answer to the query, “Why is there anything?” Then a deeper examination and larger comprehension of the wide-embracing doctrines of Unity, Reincarnation, Karma, the Sevenfold Classification, cause the person to perceive that either a means of reconciling certain old time dogmas and ideas with Theosophy must be found, or the disaster of giving the old one up must fall on him.
Contemplating the criminal class and laws thereon the mechanical theosophist sees that perhaps the retaliatory law of Moses must be abandoned if the modus vivendi is not found. Ah! of course, are not men agents for karma? Hence the criminal who has murdered may be executed, may be violently thrust out of life, because that is his karma. Besides, Society must be protected. You cite the bearing on this of the subtile, inner, living nature of man. The mechanical theosophist necessarily must shut his eyes to something, so he replies that all of that has no bearing, the criminal did murder and must be murdered; it was his own fault. So at one sweep away goes compassion, and, as well, any scientific view of criminals and sudden death, in order that there may be a retaliatory Mosaic principle, which is really bound up i our personal selfish natures.
Our naturalistic mechanician in the philosophy of life then finds quite a satisfaction. Why, of course, being in his own opinion a karmic agent he has the right to decide when he shall act as such. He will be a conscious agent. And so he executes karma upon his fellows according to his own desires and opinions; but he will not give to the beggar because that has been shown to encourage mendicity, nor would he rescue the drunken woman from the gutter because that is her fault and karma to be there. He assumes certainly to act justly, and perhaps in his narrowness of mind he thinks he is doing so, but real justice is not followed because it is unknown to him, being bound up in the long, invisible karmic streams of himself and his victim. However, he has saved his old theories and yet calls himself a theosophist.
Then again the mechanical view, being narrow and of necessity held by those who have no native knowledge of the occult, sees but the mechanical, outer operations of karma. Hence the subtile relation of parent and child, not only on this plane but on all the hidden planes of nature, is ignored. Instead of seeing that the child is of that parent just because of karma and for definite purposes; and that parentage is not merely bringing an ego into this life but for wider and greater reasons; the mechanical and naturalistic theosophist is delighted to find that his Theosophy allows one to ignore the relation, and even to curse a parent, because parentage is held to be merely a door into life and nothing more.
Mechanical Theosophy is just as bad as that form of Christianity which permits a man to call his religion the religion of love, while he at the same time may grasp, retaliate, be selfish, and sanction his government’s construction of death-dealing appliances and in going to war, although Jesus was opposed to both. Mechanical Theosophy would not condemn—as Christianity does not—those missionaries of Jesus who, finding themselves in danger of death in a land where the people do not want them, appeal to their government for warships, for soldiers, guns and forcible protection in a territory they do not own. It was the mechanical view of Christianity that created an Inquisition. This sort of religion has driven out the true religion of Jesus, and the mechanical view of our doctrines will, if persisted in, do the same for Theosophy.
Our philosophy of life is one grand whole, every part necessary and fitting into every other part. Every one of its doctrines can and must be carried to its ultimate conclusion. Its ethical application must proceed similarly. If it conflict with old opinions those must be cast off. It can never conflict with true morality. But it will with many views touching our dealings with one another. The spirit of Theosophy must be sought for; a sincere application of its principles to life and act should be made. Thus mechanical Theosophy, which inevitably leads—as in many cases it already has—to a negation of brotherhood, will be impossible, and instead there will be a living, actual Theosophy. This will then raise in our hearts the hope that at least a small nucleus of Universal Brotherhood may be formed before we of this generation are all dead.